I’ve got my students in my Diversity in Media class all off on a bonus assignment tangent making “Shit ____s say to ____s” videos, and the same basic idea has been given mom treatments here and here, so the universe is basically determining that I must make a list of things you shouldn’t say to caregiver dads. As a part-time caregiver from age 12 months to 5 years, I think I’ve got enough Brownie badges to write this up, so let’s roll. Mind you, most of these are things that have been actually said to me at least once – where they haven’t been actually voiced, they have been implied many times over.
1. Why would you want to do childcare? I was asked this by a 50+ corporate CFO or sommat at an industry association luncheon (or was it a buzzword conference?), on account of the fact that I was getting up to leave so I could take over minding my then-2 year old daughter, as my spouse’s mother was at the end of her turn for the day. It was a very carefully planned grid of work-childcare-sleep we were in at the time (me, wife and wife’s mom), and every second counted. Coulda used Nextbus back then, but alas. I’m not answering the question. Anyone (male or female) who’s spent any time reading to a two year old, or playing with a two year old in a park as well as attended prior buzzword luncheons and who would choose the buzzword luncheon (free or not) over the kid is a frothing lunatic that should probably be kept as distant from children as possible. I don’t get you, but bitch please. Why wouldn’t you choose to be with your offspring, given the opportunity that a flexibilized work schedule affords? And yes, CFOs typically get to ‘flexibilize’ their work, too.
2. I saw you playing with your daughter in the park/ walking your daughter in the stroller/etc. – you probably don’t understand what it’s like to be double, triple, quadruple booked like those of us working full time are. This one was used by a ‘social media guru’ to make excuses about why he couldn’t show up for meetings. Regardless of my full time student/ 75% full time work commitment and 40% caregiver commitment at the time, we part time caregiver dads suffer from the same socialized presumption stay-at-home moms often get the brunt of – that childcare is not ‘work’. Well, stuff it up your patriarchal pie-holes, ya dumb chumps.
3. But what about your career? When she’s 16, the career prospects will still be there. I’m a dude, remember? We earn more well beyond our spring chicken years (women don’t fare so well, horribly, and I hate to say it). And when the kid is two, four, six, eight, ten, there’s more important work to be done than publishing some article in an academic journal that is read by two dozen people, or making sure your comprehensive exams are absolutely perfect, or ensuring that your lesson plan is perfectly consistent with your deeply cherished teaching philosophy, and is exquisitely rehearsed and provocative (but not too).
4. Shouldn’t her mom be looking after her/ where’s the mother? This one surprised me, but I got it twice, both times from older women. It’s thankfully a rare gem, but I thought you should know that it’s still out there.
Stay tuned for Part Two…